Best piece of career advice she's received: "Follow your passion and don't be afraid to make mistakes."

— Lazetta Rainey Braxton

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Lazetta Rainey Braxton

Founder, Financial Fountains

Lazetta Rainey Braxton is founder of Financial Fountains in Baltimore, Md., and president of the Association of African American Financial Advisors, popularly known as Quad-A.

Her practice focuses on mass affluent clients, a market segment she believes is underserved and underrepresented. Half of her clientele is African American.

Coming through the corporate pipeline from investment management to wealth management to solopreneurship, Ms. Braxton found herself in a heavily white, male-dominated environment.

"It helped me understand men better," she said. "You become an astute learner, learning a lot about their triggers and what they bring to the table."

Being a financial adviser requires professionals to be willing to be vulnerable and competent at the same time, she said.

"As a female, being sensitive — a feminine trait — helps you to tune in to what each gender needs," she said.

"Furthermore, my expertise within predominantly majority and minority communities allows me to move seamlessly between cultures," she said. "I see that as a strength. It allows me to be versatile."

Ms. Braxton is still buzzing with excitement about Quad-A's inaugural annual conference, held in September in partnership with the Financial Planning Association's national conference and its diversity initiative.

This was an historic event for the Quad-A, founded in 2001, effectively putting it on the map.

"Many of my colleagues feel isolated, like they work in silos," Ms. Braxton said. "By having this momentum, we've identified the lone torch bearers."

— Deborah Nason

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